ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Just before firing Sean May the day after he was sent home for wearing an American flag pin, the Casa Monica Hotel answered some questions in an email Friday.
"The Casa Monica Hotel located in St. Augustine, Florida, is an American-based, homegrown historic hotel," the email reads. "The property reflects its pride in America and great patriotism by flying the Stars and Stripes high over the hotel. The American flag greets every guest and employee with its symbolism of our belief in this great country."
"However, our employee handbook clearly states, 'No other buttons, badges, pins or insignias of any kind are permitted to be worn.' No matter an individual's national preference, political views or religious affiliation, it is a standard regulation which ensures equality for all Grand Performers (employees)."
The Casa Monica Hotel's response has angered many people, some who say the policy is backwards and that American flag pins shouldn't be banned but should be embraced.
"The dress code should include a lapel pin for everybody," said Bruce Whalen, who served in the Air Force and takes this incident personally.
Whalen said he is so offended by the hotel's policy that he's writing to the hotel, along with his entire email list, and he's calling on friends to boycott the hotel and its parent company.
"Anybody who takes a chance on his livelihood to take a stand for patriotism is a hero and should be treated like a hero," Whalen said.
May, the 26-year-old now-former front desk supervisor at Casa Monica Hotel in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, was told to take the pin off Thursday because it violates company policy, but he refused and was sent home.
St. Johns county Commissioner Mark Miner issued this statement on the issue:
"The Casa Monica Hotel and Kessler Enterprise certainly have the legal right to forbid their employees from wearing an American flag pin. However, their inability to discern between the flag of our nation and other pins and buttons that their policies forbid is of great concern to me. St. Johns County is home to nearly 20,000 military veterans and is made up of an ideologically and culturally diverse population whose collective love for the United States is second to none. I want to make clear that the actions taken by the Casa Monica Hotel and Kessler Enterprise do not represent the patriotism shared by St. Johns County residents and businesses."
"I hope Kessler Enterprise will act quickly to correct the disrespect they have shown the flag of our great nation and end the embarrassment they have brought upon St. Johns County."
Miner is a two-time veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has been a member of the Florida Army National Guard since 2002.
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